Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Has Birth Control Made Us Richer and Happier?

After reading Amanda Marcotte's recent article in Rolling Stone titled 5 Ways Birth Control has Changed America, I had a little gratitude moment that I was born 2 years before the birth control pill was available in America.

Had I been born even 25 years earlier things might have been very different for me. I likely would have been married at 18 or nineteen with 2 or 3 kids by my 25th birthday. I never would have gone to college, or started my own business, or travelled the world. I would likely be divorced, a single mom struggling financially. My kids would be struggling too, trying to put themselves through college, or burdened by a mountain of school debt as they try to make their way in the world.

I probably would be have found a way to be happy. I might have remarried, negotiating the step mother role in a blended family. I would be have taken pride in my children's accomplishments and my role in shaping their lives. I would like to think I would have been able find meaningful work outside the home, but the odds would have been stacked against me.

Fast forward to today and I see women in their twenties and thirties graduating college as single women, postponing marriage and child birth into their thirties, and pursuing careers that are both emotionally and financially rewarding. Most of them don't realize that it not for the pill and other reliable methods of birth control, their experience of young adulthood would be very different.

And America would be very different too. Here's how America has changed as a result of access contraception use, according to Marcotte:

"A 2012 University of Michigan study that examined women's gains over a period of decades determined that a whopping one-third of women's wage gains from the Sixties through the Nineties were attributable to greater access to contraception. Moreover, they found that the earlier women started taking the pill – at age 18 instead of 21, for instance – the more money the made over a lifetime.

Conversely, research on the effects of unintended childbirth shows that it is deeply detrimental to your pocketbook. Unintended child-bearing is linked to lower participation in the job market and higher dependency on government services. That so many Republicans would rather see more women on welfare than condone non-procreative sex tells you a lot about where their priorities lie.

There's been a mind-boggling decline in the teen birth rate. Most people think the teen pregnancy rate has been going up lately – there's this idea out there that kids today, with their hip-hop music and their "revealing" clothes, are somehow less "moral" than ever and therefore must be experiencing more unintended pregnancies. But in fact the teen pregnancy rate has been declining steadily since the late Fifties, and is now at an all-time low. But teens aren't having less sex than they did in the Elvis Presley era. The main reason for the decline is better contraception use, plain and simple.

Women's educational attainment has surged. These days, greater percentages of both men and women have college degrees than they did in the past – but women's rate of growth has trumped men's dramatically. In 1970, only 8 percent of women and 14 percent of men were college graduates. Now, more than 35 percent of women ages 24 to 35 have a college degree, while fewer than 30 percent of men do.

This shift can be attributed to a lot of factors – more schools accepting women, more women seeking professional careers – but birth control has played a huge role. It should be obvious that avoiding unwanted pregnancies helps women complete college, but in case you're a skeptic, there's plenty of research showing that in states where more unmarried women have access to contraception, more of them finish college."

Are we richer and happier because of our access to birth control? Richer, for sure. Happier? Well that depends if you achieved what you wanted to achieve. But, really it depends on how you navigate your circumstances because, with kids or without kids, happiness is a choice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Caribbean Cruise with your Childfree friends! Group Deal extended until April 30!

We've been talking about it. Now it's finally happening! 

A Caribbean Cruise with your Childfree friends! Join us on Dec 5-12, 2015 for a cruise with Laura Scott and other Childfree authors on the stunning Italian cruise ship MSC Divina sailing from Miami, Florida! Register with your $100 deposit before April 30/15 to get this 7 day Caribbean cruise starting at only $349.00 per person, featuring exclusively childfree excursions and a day on Stirrup Cay, a private island. for more information Mention, "LAURA SCOTT sent me for info on this great deal!". It's just 100.00 per person deposit to hold your cabin on this cruise! ALL deposits are FULLY REFUNDABLE 80 days from cruising. Looking forward to sailing with you! Laura

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How the Childfree Plan for End of Life

What are you going to do when you get old? As much as I hate this question, I love how creative the childfree have been in their response to this. Not by words but by actions. Recently the New York Times featured an article about childfree women and men who had taken the appropriate steps to plan for end of life so that they could embrace their golden years without worry and stress. Here's one man's story:

Bill Strubbe, 58, a travel writer and painter living in San Francisco’s East Bay, plans to leave the country. In the fall, Mr. Strubbe, who has no children and is single, is relocating to a kibbutz outside Haifa, Israel, that he has been visiting since he was 20.
“I’ll be living among a community of people I have known all my adult life and has systems in place for care of the elderly,” he said. “Unlike the U.S.A., Israel has excellent health care for all its citizens, and that will take a big load off of my mind, knowing that I won’t be left flapping in the breeze if something happens to me.”
Of course, one issue facing the childless is what to do with their estates. Some establish foundations in their name or leave money to charity, said David W. Nethery, senior vice president for wealth management at Merrill Lynch in Dallas. Others bequeath money to siblings, nieces and nephews, or friends, as did Ms. Lewton.
In Mr. Strubbe’s ideal world, he won’t have any cash left. “Hopefully I will have used it all up,” he said. Should there be any, he said he would most likely leave it to “nieces and nephews and/or some of the children of close friends on the kibbutz.”
Among the stipulations, he said, he is ordering recipients not to use their inheritance “to pay bills, taxes, rent or other such mundane things, but to earmark it for taking a trip you could never afford, enrolling in an art class that was not in the budget, or do something meaningful, wild and fun.”

I love this! Mr. Stubbe isn't the only who is considering communal living at the end of life and it makes sense. As a coach, I am constantly reminding my clients the importance of staying connected and building tribes, especially as we age. It's so important to our quality of life. I am thrilled to know there are role models for a happy, fulfilled, and worry free life into our seventies, eighties and beyond.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Challenge of Finding a Truly Childfree Africa

I recently received an email from a 35 year old African woman from Nairobi, Kenya who wanted to share her story. I will call her “Kris” as she asked to remain anonymous. She is a good example how an “early articulator” feels and copes as she navigates in a pronatalist culture. Here’s her story:
I have always known I'd be childfree. I told my folks this when I was about 7 years old, and they have only just started 'believing' me about 2 years ago. My gynecologists still insist I might change my mind, so no there is no sterilization in sight. In my country there is little respect for women's reproductive choice (a woman 'knowing her mind'), even among the most educated in the medical fraternity.
I am motivated to remain childfree by an innate knowing which has become firmer as I grow older and trust my instincts more. I have an absolute respect for motherhood, which I believe shouldn't be entered into with the slightest doubt, and I believe that nurturing and creating can be fulfilled in so, so many ways. I am inspired by childless/childfree women and men who have consciously and creatively left their mark on the world, and on hearts. Personally, I learn from and gravitate more to nature and animals than humans.
My 10 year partnership was on its last legs and imploded last year and my childfree stance was used as a convenient scapegoat to explain the problems. My partner had 'hidden' this decision from his parents and when I told them about it, they were shocked and totally against it. This discussion was the first agenda in my current relationship, and it's understandably a major decision for my partner. I've engaged many enlightened men, but even the most eccentric are revolted by the idea. Proof of manhood is intrinsically tied to procreation. Procreation is so completely engrained in the social, religious, cultural and even economic life, it's barely discussed--it's assumed. I couldn't, in good conscience, deny fatherhood to a man (though I'm quite certain not many of them think deeply about the responsibility of good parenting). I've never met an African CF man.
From personal experience, marriage for me would come with the inherent challenge of being stigmatized by my in-laws and the obligation to accept that my husband can have children by any other means (e.g. second family/polygamy). It'd take a very strong man not to cave to the sustained social pressure. I'm coming to the conclusion that marriage and civil partnership could very well be elusive, which is sad. I revel in being slightly eccentric but I've only just started coming to terms with the implications of my decision. This could be a lonely road, but it's a reality I've accepted.
I trust Kris will eventually find a man who is like-minded but it is interesting that in many communities men feel as culturally compelled to procreate as women do. When parenthood is the assumption, there is little room for the idea of personal choice in the matter of procreation. Over time, I believe this will change. I would love to hear your stories about the challenge of finding a like-minded partner. Please comment below...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Register Now and Join your Childfree friends on a 7 day Caribbean Cruise!

We've been talking about it. Now it's finally happening!

A Caribbean Cruise with your Childfree friends!

Join us on Dec 5-12, 2015 for a cruise with Laura Scott and other Childfree authors on the stunning Italian cruise ship MSC Divina sailing from Miami, Florida! Register before March 31/15 to get this 7 day Caribbean cruise starting at only $349.00 per person, featuring childfree excursions and day on Stirrup Cay, a private island.
for more information Mention, "LAURA SCOTT sent me for info on this great deal!".

It's just 100.00 per person to hold your cabin on this cruise! ALL deposits are FULLY REFUNDABLE 80 days from cruising.
Looking forward to sailing with you!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Having Kids Won't Fulfill You

I was interested to find that the author of a recent Time Magazine article titled "Why Having Kids Won't Fulfill You" was written by a woman who struggled and finally succeeded to have children.

Her article was in response to actress Jennifer Aniston's recently published complaint that "“I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women – that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair."

Maria Guido, author of the Time article said when she did, eventually, have children her life did change but not in the profound ways many women imagine. Her life just got busier and more complicated. She points to her mother's experience of being a divorced single mother and her claim that her children were the only thing that gave her happiness as the reason she felt compelled to follow in her mother's footsteps. Guido notes that 40 years after the women's liberation movement, we still don't believe we can be happy without children, and she asks, "Everyone is always looking for the latent sadness, the regret. What if it’s not there?"

Guido's feelings are summed up in this paragraph, which serves to reassure all childess women who might be feeling the same way as Jennifer Aniston:
I never questioned my desire to have children, because I didn’t have to; I took the well-traveled road. That desire is expected of me – it’s expected of all women. It took me decades to realize that the maternal drive I carried with me my entire adult life, the one that led me to try for five years to have children, may not have been a biological imperative at all. It may just have been a program that was placed into my psyche by the repeated mantras of a woman who was let down by a man and comforted by her children. That’s okay. I love my children and I’m happy about the experiences I’ve had and the paths that have led me to this place. But if this isn’t your place—whether you’re a famous movie star or not– you didn’t take a wrong turn.
Guido's article reminds me that fulfillment is not found following in someone else's footsteps; fulfillment is found is found by following the beat of your own heart.